Orca, which stands for Outdoor Recreation Company of America, is based in Nashville, Tennessee. It started in 2012 with some outdoor enthusiasts who wanted to create a better cooler. Their first roto-molded cooler was born, and they’ve expanded from there.
They’ve added soft-sided coolers, tumblers, and even customizable products for teams, greek life, and other events. They certainly aren’t cheap, but investing in an Orca cooler gives you a product that will last beautifully from season to season.
Orca manufactures their products in the United States and shows military and first responder some love with discounts year round on all their products. Let’s take a look at why Orca may be your newest cooler investment.
Best Orca Coolers for Most People
Orca makes some amazing things, but we think these two are the best options for the vast majority of people.
The 20 Quart is one of Orca’s most popular offerings. It features a three-inch wall of insulation and a three-inch lid as well. It has a rigid, reinforced handle and a cold gasket that helps seal the top against any leaks. It uses roto-molded plastic for a more durable exterior that can handle some abuse even in inclement weather.
What Customers Like:
- three inches of insulation
- roto-molded plastic
- easy to use drain
- can be heavy
Orca’s Podster is a backpack style cooler with a unique round design. It’s a 14.25-quart cooler with padded handles and a leakproof zipper. It uses an 840 denier double TPU exterior material for durability and to resist tearing. Insulated inner walls with EVA reinforcement provide insulation through a closed cell formulation. The flip top allows you to access everything inside easily and quickly without having to shove things around.
What Customers Like:
- straight sides provide easy access
- padded backpack style handles are comfortable
- insulation is consistent
- zipper requires maintenance
- straps can get in the way when you aren’t wearing it
Everything Else: The Entire Orca Product Line
Orca’s popular 20-quart cooler comes in a variety of sizes. The 20 quart is the smallest size of the hard walled coolers, but the line actually goes all the way up to 140 quarts.
Soft Sided Coolers
Orca’s backpack coolers are an excellent choice if you need your hands free. The padded straps fit great, and the overall shape of the cooler gives you a lot of space. The top zips off almost entirely, revealing all the contents quickly and easily.
It comes in a few different colors and has plenty of loops across the front to add accessories (like those keys you keep losing). Even though it’s soft-sided, it has about the same insulating power as the hard sided coolers.
Hard Sided Coolers
Orca’s hard-sided coolers are a much more extensive line. They’re organized by capacity, and all of them come on Orca’s traditional colors. Many of the small to medium sizes also come in a variety of specific colors including ones for sports, greek life, and first responders tributes. They all feature Orca’s classic design and thick walls with the classic Orca tail detail on closures and in the logo.
Let’s take a look at what makes Orca coolers so unique.
One good piece of design from Orca is that even their largest coolers come in a variety of colors. You can’t always get the largest sizes in the specialty designs, but all the basic colors are there. The curved edges make for a softer cooler with nothing that hurts when you bump into it. They’ve chosen a vintage look for the cooler, and it pays off well. It’s easy to attach the cooler to other things such as your tailgate or other camping gear.
The rotomolded plastic exterior is good for two reasons. First, it’s less precious than some other coolers, so you don’t have to treat it so delicately. The stronger sides and corners are crack resistant even when you’re taking the cooler in the back of your truck or hauling it out to your boat.
It’s also better for insulation. Inside the plastic, integrated insulation keeps drinks and food cold for up to ten days. The lid gasket helps prevent any hot air leaks, maintaining consistent temperatures even when you’re opening and closing the lid.
A reinforced metal handle helps you carry the smaller options while the bigger coolers have flex grip options that can be used solo or for a tandem carry. They all come with a cargo net for extended storage and have rubber feet to prevent slipping.
Orca has a few accessories designed to enhance your coolers. Wire baskets hold up smaller items within the cooler, so they don’t get lost in all the ice. There are no slip toppers to create a safer storage surface on the top for when the cooler is in transit. There are also a variety of latches and locks, plus different kinds of feet, so you can create and then secure your cooler the way you want.
One of the best things about the Orca line is that you can customize coolers if you have a group or a team. Contact the company for details, but the minimum order is 24 coolers, plenty to show love to your favorite local organization.
Orca guarantees their coolers for life. If you notice any unusual wear and tear, a handle breaks, or your insulation doesn’t hold up, contact the company, and they’ll replace your cooler with one that performs to expectation.
Orca Coupons & Promo Codes for 2020
Orca frequently runs discounts and promos for the holidays, including Black Friday and Memorial Day. If you’re a service member or first responder, you’re also eligible for an anytime discount. Just use ID.me at checkout.
The 20 Quart is Orca’s most popular offering and for a good reason. It’s a mix of easy transportability with heavy duty construction.
Older style coolers used a more brittle plastic susceptible to cracking and weather damage. The newest style of cooler uses a roto-molded plastic, otherwise known as rotationally molded plastic. Manufacturers rotate the mold as the plastic is being poured, creating a more structurally sound, even mixture. As it sets, it’s stronger and less likely to have weak spots. It’s also better at insulation.
The insulation is three inches thick inside the walls, including the lid. Insulation is solid, creating consistent temperatures inside. The lid gasket fits the body and the lid tightly together with no leaks, so you never have temperature fluctuations as you move the cooler around.
The cooler doesn’t look like a traditional cooler either. It has rounded edges and curvy look despite being industrial strength. The handles are padded and push to the side to make it easy to get inside the cooler. It comes in plenty of colors including limited editions, designs for sports or greek life, and a few military/first responder nods. It also includes details such as reinforced hinges and T-rex latches.
Orca’s coolers are defined by their names. The Orca 20 can hold 20 quarts, so it’s not just a marketing ploy. This is the smallest size, and it’s good for quick trips to the beach, fishing trips (especially with smaller boats), and other uses when you don’t need to pack for 20 people. It’s maneuverable and doesn’t weigh too much although for the size it might be on the heavy side.
Orca coolers do need some prep time before you head out. The insulation can absorb ambient room temperatures over time, so if you tend to leave yours in the garage, this could shorten the life of your ice.
The night before you head out, fill the cooler with water and ice and close it up. This allows cooler temperatures to penetrate the insulation, creating a cooler environment from the outset. When you’re ready, drain the cooler of the excess water and add in new ice plus your drinks and food. This way, the cooler won’t begin melting your ice while it absorbs cooler temperatures and you get a head start on keeping things cold.
What Customers Are Saying
A lot of people are raving about Orca’s lineup of coolers at Walmart. Here are a couple of our favorite testimonials from real customers:
“I took this ice chest on a 3-day road trip. I liked it because it kept my drinks ice cold the entire trip with only 1 initial ice addition and the next day some snow addition. I left it alone after I got home (just to see what would happen) and by the 5th day the drinks inside were still icy cold (and delicious)!”
What Customers Like:
- Three inches of insulation
- Easy to carry
- Not too heavy overall
- Getting the right seal can be tricky.
Coolers Like Orca
We get it. You want to know all your options, and we can respect it. Let’s take a look at two similar brands to help you decide which one is the right one for you.
This is the granddaddy of roto-molded coolers. This option is a comparable price and design and has plenty of storage space. One thing we love about Yeti is the T-rex, flexible rubber clips which can withstand quite a bit of abuse before cracking (and if protected from UV rays, may never crack).
Yeti offers a range of both soft and hard sided coolers. They also have one specifically meant to dispense drinks and a few that mimic an ice bucket (which would be nice on summer evenings). You can add on a range of accessories to help with organization, and to help bear-proof your cooler for trips to the interior.
Orca is slightly less expensive, but you’re only going to save about $20 or so dollars for the most part. For many of you except the ones on the tightest of budgets, this isn’t even an issue. Both companies offer promotions and sales pretty regularly although Yeti seems to edge out Orca in this regard.
One thing Orca has over Yeti is the variety of design. If you’re looking for a particular color, you’re more likely to find it at Orca. However, Yeti has more flexibility with size, offering coolers in a broader range of capacities than Orca.
Choose Orca if you need a specific color or want to save a few dollars no matter how little. It’ll last quite a while, and the design is excellent. It has plenty to offer and is an especially impressive gift when you manage to find the exact color for the team or the exact right design in a sea of generic coolers.
Choose Yeti if you need a wider range of capacity. Their coolers come in much bigger ranges in both the hard sided and soft-sided coolers.
Ozark Trails is a budget option sold by Walmart and Amazon. It features some of the same high-end benefits of those other coolers but for half the price. It comes at its own expense, however, with a cold life of about half that of Yeti or Orca.
It uses rotomolded plastic and commercial grade insulation to produce a highly durable cooler that should get your through the afternoon at your kid’s softball game, or for the day picnicking. It’s durable and scratch resistant, but it doesn’t have any sort of drain spout with many of the models.
It comes in a good variety of colors but not nearly as many as Orca. If you need options for design and customization, you’re going to be a lot better off investing in an Orca. Plus, Orca coolers have a drain spout in their hard sided options while many of Ozark Trails options don’t. You do have a few options for accessories to organize the interior and there’s a handy drink holder on the top.
If you’re budget minded and you need something to get you through a few hours with refreshments, it may not make sense to invest in an Orca. The Ozark Trail is a solid choice that won’t kill your wallet and give you plenty of insulation for the afternoon for snacks or drinks. If you’re ok without a drain spout and without the wide variety of team and greek life inspired collections, Ozark Trail is a worthy, affordable option.
We give this brand a solid 4.5 out of 5. We’d give it a lot more, but we’d like to see some more capacity options and not just color options.
That said, Orca is an excellent brand of a cooler that can withstand all our clumsiness while we’re in the great outdoors. It’s based in Tennessee, and manufacturer’s exclusively in the United States. We are huge fans of their first responder gear because we think first responders don’t get enough recognition in the field. Plus, if you’re current or former military, you’re eligible for discounts on all their gear.
The wide range of colors allows you to choose something that fits your style and stands out. How many people have a bright pink cooler? Or electric orange? They’re durable, and the color won’t fade after a few uses as long as you protect it from direct sunlight. The backpack coolers are also a nice touch with comfortable straps and plenty of storage space. They come in more limited colors, but you should still be able to find something you like.